In response to COVID-19 concerns, the University of Toronto has announced that it will be cancelling all undergraduate and research-stream masters and doctoral courses effective March 16. However, the university and all three campuses will remain open during this time.

This decision to cancel classes is effective until April 3, the scheduled last day of classes for the academic year. Alternative forms of teaching will be provided in the meantime, including the use of online platforms.

U of T has yet to make a decision on whether professional programs, such as architecture and education, will continue, though it will give notice by Monday morning. It says that since each professional program “has particular circumstances and accreditation requirements, consultation is ongoing today to determine the appropriate course of action.”

Campuses will remain open, including libraries, residences, food services, health & wellness centres, athletics and recreation facilities, and other public spaces.

This decision comes on the heels of the World Health Organization designating the COVID-19 outbreak as a global pandemic and the Ontario government announcing the closing of all public schools following March break.

In his announcement, U of T President Meric Gertler wrote that this measure was also the result of careful consideration regarding circumstances that developed over the past 24 hours. This could include Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s diagnosis of COVID-19 and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s self-imposed isolation.

In the past week, the university announced that it would no longer be requiring a doctor’s note for absences due to cold or flu-like symptoms, or due to self-isolation. Just yesterday, it announced the cancellation of all international activity.

One of the key considerations that brought about this measure is the need for social distancing, which has been recommended by public health specialists. Gertler wrote that the university’s “goal is to help interrupt the chain of transmission in the wider community, thereby protecting vulnerable individuals and ensuring that our health care system will not become overburdened.”

The Varsity has reached out to U of T Media Relations for comment.